Published on Let's Talk Development

Within Reach

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With 2015 fast approaching, many of us in the development community are paying close attention to how post-MDG plans are unfolding. At Bread for the World Institute, we are using the 2013 edition of our annual Hunger Report to share our thoughts about getting to 2015 and how we’d like to see the post-MDG agenda develop.

The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach – Global Development Goals, calls for a strong push, starting right now, to meet the MDG targets by 2015. We believe the more progress we can achieve leading up to 2015, the greater the momentum leading into the post-MDG discussions – and the stronger the chances of getting buy-in for a new set of global development goals. The MDGs have been remarkably successful in focusing the world’s attention on hunger and poverty. Measurable, time-bound goals have led to both increased resources and better allocation of them; fostered a dialogue around aid effectiveness; and improved transparency, allowing citizens to hold their leaders accountable. Successor goals will help build on these achievements.  

The Hunger Report stops short of proposing a comprehensive set of new goals beyond 2015. Instead, we argue that whatever post-MDG framework emerges, it should continue to make ending hunger and poverty a preeminent focus: Goal 1. Because it is possible to end extreme poverty and hunger. We propose a target date of 2040 to reach this goal. This is not an arbitrary timeframe. It is 25 years, roughly one generation, after the MDGs expire in 2015. In light of the progress we’ve made in recent decades against extreme poverty – incredible progress that is nonetheless widely underappreciated – getting to zero in a generation is an ambitious goal but clearly within reach.

According to recent FAO data, progress against hunger has been more rapid than was earlier estimated, but it has also stalled as a result of the 2007-2008 food price crisis and the global economic downturn. This suggests that actions taken now can put the world on a trajectory to achieve the MDG hunger target.

As the World Bank’s 2012 Global Monitoring Report documented so well, another devastating long-term consequence of the food price crisis was increased malnutrition, particularly in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and age 2. Malnutrition in this window of opportunity is debilitating in many ways – affecting not only the health, learning ability, and lifetime productivity of the children who survive, but also the economic potential of the 36 countries where it is prevalent. For this reason, the Hunger Report proposes setting a target to reduce stunting in the next set of goals – because stunting is a powerful indicator of both malnutrition and the vulnerability and inequality that leads to it.

The timing of Within Reach – Global Development Goals coincides with the start of the second Obama administration. The next presidential term will be when we reach the 2015 deadline and, hopefully, launch a new set of goals. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have played a leadership role on the international stage on hunger and malnutrition. The 2013 Hunger Report calls for continued leadership to help build global consensus and support for the post-MDG development agenda.  Faith voices have been champions of the MDGs in the United States and around the world, and the report also calls on the US faith community to mobilize to raise public awareness about 2015 and beyond and to build political will.


Asma Lateef

Director, Bread for the World Institute

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